Samantha FIsh will perform at the Chautauqua Auditorium on May 28, 2022

“That was my mission on this album: to set these songs up to have a life of their own,” says Samantha Fish on kill or be nice, his sixth solo album and debut on Rounder Records. “Strong messages from the heart – that’s what I really wanted.” Indeed, what is immediately apparent upon listening to the album is the extraordinary level of songcraft across its eleven tracks, the way these songs are so cleverly put together to produce powerful emotional impact.

Anyone who has heard Fish’s previous albums knows that she has earned a place at the forefront of contemporary blues guitarists and that her voice can squeeze the soul out of a ballad and rock a rocker with a force that shakes the soul. roof. And, rest assured, these virtues are fully demonstrated on Kill or Be Kind. But each of the songs on the album does more than just provide a backdrop for Fish’s pyrotechnics. They tell gripping stories, set in place by skillfully setting verses, choruses that soar with real feeling, and hooks that pop into your thoughts later, even when you’re not at all aware that you think about music. It’s the kind of writing that emerges when raw talent comes from experience and aspiration, and when a committed artist really has something to say. These qualities make Kill or Be Kind a true artistic breakthrough for Fish.

“I think I grew as a performer and as a player,” she explains. “I became more respectful of the melody. You can up and down the fretboard and up and down your vocal range, but that won’t be as powerful as delivering a simple melody that people can really connect to and sing along to themselves. To help bring these elements to his music, Fish sought out high-quality songwriting collaborators – like Jim McCormick (who previously worked with Fish and also wrote for Luke Bryan and Keith Urban); Kate Pearlman (who worked with Kelly Clarkson); Patrick Sweeney; Parker Millsap; and Eric McFadden. The result is an album on which each song is distinct, but the full work holds together as a cohesive and entirely satisfying statement. “When you get to that point in your life as an artist,” says Fish, “it’s good to work with others because it pushes you to stretch. I think you hear a lot of that nuance on the record, songs that have a pop sensibility, hooks that really appeal to you.

You get a good idea of ​​the range covered by the album from the first two songs released. Fish propels “Watch It Die” with an insistent guitar riff, but near the end of the song, two female background vocalists give the song a haunting and soulful feel. Meanwhile, “Love Letters” moves over an insinuating, stop-time riff in its verses until it bursts with passion on its chorus. Both songs use horn sections for smoothness and texture. “Love Letters” also introduces one of the album’s central themes: the lure of getting lost in love – and the dangers of it. “Keep waking up in the bed I made,” Fish sings. “Forget the pain when you wanna play / I’m back broken when you go.”

“It’s just a love song,” Fish says with a laugh. “as I think I was when I wrote it.” The title track, a seductive ballad, offers a lover a stark choice: “Make up your mind/I can kill or be nice.” To explain this dichotomy, Fish says, “It’s funny how love can be so capricious, how quickly you go from an object of affection to an object of disdain. I have always found this dynamic interesting. This track is full of that duality,” she adds with a laugh. “I also loved the Memphis sound of the horns there. They sound modern, but they also have that vintage edge to them. The songs ‘Dirty’, ‘Love Your Lies’ and ‘Fair-Weather’ explore similar themes – how deception, self-deception and changing expectations can alter the course of life and love.The touching ballad “Dream Girl” turns the affection of its title on its head and explores the dilemma of a love that does not “I wish you’d take the rest of me,” Fish sings, “These tears, they kill your fantasy.”On “She Don’t Live Around Here Anymore,” a soulful ballad once again bolstered by Tasteful brass parts, the singer faces the feeling of being used and finds autonomy in walking away.

The album is framed by songs – “Bulletproof” and “You Got It Bad (Better Than You Ever Had)”. “Bulletproof explores the theme of vulnerability, how it is confused with weakness, and how we often feel the need to wear a mask to survive in today’s world, while “You Got It Bad (Better Than You Ever Had)” is about working towards your dreams and the razor’s edge we often walk to achieve our goals.

“Trying Not to Fall in Love With You” shows the singer doesn’t want to rush a relationship — and therefore undermine it. “I fall fast,” Fish admits, “I have to remember to be careful and not scare the person.”

To make Kill or Be Kind, Fish chose to work at the legendary Royal Studios in Memphis, with Scott Billington as producer. “I worked at Royal before, when I did my Wild Heart album,” she says. “The soul in the walls, the vibe – you can feel it in this place. I’m such a fan of Al Green, Ann Peebles and all the classic recordings that happened there. Memphis just kept going. don’t call me. I always felt so inspired there. As for three-time Grammy winner Billington, Fish appreciated both her open-mindedness and willingness to push her out of her zone of comfort.” Scott allowed me to see the process of building the album all the way through, top to bottom,” she says. “Bringing in background vocals and synthesizers, which I never had done on an album before, it added an extra edge. Honestly, it was a challenge. It made me think about songs differently. That trust from my producer gave me the freedom to really take risks.

Having completed an album she believes in so strongly – “It’s me that crosses over, my personality,” she says – Fish is eager to present it to the world. “I have the moon in the back of my head and I want to shoot it!” she declares. “I want to go beyond genres and reach as many people as possible. This album is so broad – and that’s all me. So I hope it will attract people and please them.

She concludes: “Overall, my big goal, career-wise, is to bring something different and new to music. I want to give something that stands out and yet is timeless. With Kill or Be Kind, Samantha Fish is on the right track. –Anthony De Curtis

SAMANTHA FISH

CHAUTAUQUA AUDITORIUM

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Doors: 6:30 p.m. | Show: 7:30 p.m.

Tickets on sale Friday, February 18 at 10 a.m. HERE

Tickets $25.00 to $40.00 plus applicable service charge

All ages

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